Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

I felt like I found the fountain of youth with Eleanor & Park, but at the same time, it made me feel so darn old. Here’s a monologue of my thoughts while reading pages 70-71 (which can be shifted around just a little bit to apply to the rest of the book):

Me: Oh my gosh, Park feels bad for Eleanor, that’s so sweet.
Me: Aw, Eleanor doesn’t want to talk to Park about her abusive stepfather. That’s so sweet.
Me: Park is holding Eleanor’s scarf and she doesn’t want him to look up because he would see her feelings for him. So, so sweet.
Me: OH MY GOODNESS HE SLID HIS FINGERS INTO HER OPEN PALM THEY’RE HOLDING HANDS THAT’S SO ROMANTIC SOMEONE GIVE ME CPR. *proceeds to fanboy for the rest of time*

Rainbow Rowell captures the essence of adolescence with such skill. The book revolves around the relationship between Eleanor, a big girl with an even bigger personality, and Park, the one Asian kid in his entire high school. Both characters experience the awkwardness of trying to talk to strangers, the difficulties of fitting in, and the feeling of flight that comes with first love. They build the foundation of their relationship on a shared love of music and comic books, but it becomes so much more. Even though I’m only two years older than them, I caught myself thinking oh my gosh, I remember when I felt like that in high school or ugh, this brings back all those teenaged memories. Perhaps that speaks positively for Rowell’s portrayal of Eleanor and Park – here’s a small quote from Eleanor’s POV that stuck out to me.

She would never belong in Park’s living room. She never felt like she belonged anywhere, except for when she was lying on her bed, pretending to be somewhere else.

Park has to handle his dad’s high expectations of him, while Eleanor deals with annoying, gossipy girls and her dangerous stepfather. These issues elevate their romance to another level, and though others may have wanted more time devoted to different elements as opposed to the romance, I think Rowell stuck to her strength in focusing mainly on Eleanor and Park. The ending provided enough angst to break my heart but just enough hope to patch it right up.

Highly recommended for fans of young-adult contemporary romance, or anyone searching for a story that will bring back their teenage years. If Eleanor and Park is any indication, YA novels will help me maintain my youth… hopefully…

(also, you can read my thoughts on the fourth and fifth Harry Potter book here and here respectively)

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15 Comments

Filed under 4.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

15 responses to “Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

  1. This sounds fabby! Awesome review. :)

  2. Yay, review!
    I’m one of those people who did wish the other elements (like Eleanor’s and Park’s families) had a larger role… but just a larger role than they had before. Not larger than the romance. I would love it if Eleanor & Park were longer.

    • At least Rainbow Rowell’s new book Fangirl sounds promising – perhaps you’ll like that one more than Eleanor & Park. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Jenny

    :O Now I need to read Eleanor and Park. >.<
    Also, I loved your review of HP5. xD Although unlike you, I really loved his angst. It was irritating, but I also just found it really funny. Also, I'm still an angsty teenager. :P

    • If you feel the need to read Eleanor & Park I’ve done my job. (: Glad you enjoyed my review, and yeah, I was/am quite the angst-filled person myself. It’s great that you related to Rowling’s work. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. It sounds really different from a lot of the young adult fiction out there so I think I’ll have to check it out! Great review! :)

  5. I’m absolutely thrilled you enjoyed this one so much, Thomas! I recently bought it on my Kindle, but I’ve been skeptical about reading it because of the mixed reviews. I have a strong feeling I’ll enjoy this, though. It’ll be my first Rainbow Rowell book, so I’m very excited. Fantastic review – I absolutely LOVED your reactions in the beginning!(;

    • Keertana I hope you enjoy this one! It’ll be a great read to diffuse some of the college application stress. (: Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. I must get a copy of this. ASAP! I can picture myself reacting the same way you did while reading this! It just sounds so freaking CUTE! Great review!

    • Woo for mutual fanboy/fangirl freakouts! It is really, really cute – I don’t think that word can come close to capturing the essence of this book. (: Thanks for reading and commenting Abbe!

  7. Pingback: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | Shelf-Made Girl

  8. D’aaaaw, that was such a cute review; I’ve been absent from my inner bookworm side for almost a month now. The review has got me thinking that I need to revisit this side of me, starting with this book xD

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